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by Shane Stokes
February 16, 2015
Alberto Contador will ride a maximum of two more Tours de France before hanging up his wheels, with the two-time winner declaring today that 2016 will be his final season.
The Spaniard has passed up the possibility to try to join Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain as the winners of five Tours.
Contador made the announcement Monday at the presentation of the junior and under 23 Fundación Alberto Contador (Alberto Contador Foundation) at the Hotel Princess Eboli in his hometown of Pinto, Spain.
“Physically I have recovered well [from 2014] and I’m exited about the team, but the years pass,” he said, according to AS. “I will be in the peloton next year, but it will be the last one.”
Contador is currently in the final year of his contract with Tinkoff Saxo and so it remains to be seen if he will be part of the squad in 2016. However team owner Oleg Tinkov said recently that the Spaniard would retire with the team, suggesting that he is committed to keeping him on board.
In December the 32 year old told Marca that he was determined to go out of the sport at the top rather than persisting while his form declined with age.
“I’ll see how the season goes,” he said then, keeping the end date open. “I feel really good. Physically speaking, this year has been the best of my entire career.
“But the years go by, and although I’m not feeling physically or psychologically weary, my intention is to retire at the top, winning my last race. And I don’t mean a small one; I’m talking about a big one. Specifically, the Tour.”
He said then that he didn’t plan on retiring at the end of 2015, although he repeated that he would have to be at his top level to continue.
“I don’t see myself being here for many more years. I won’t make it to 35 [as a pro]. I’ll stay for another contract at most. Then let’s see how things look.”
Contador has repeatedly said that he will aim for the Giro/Tour double this season. It was last achieved back in 1998 when Marco Pantani triumphed and has only been done by seven riders in history.
The others are Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Stephen Roche and Miguel Indurain.
Speaking on Monday, he restated his intention to try to join that exclusive club.
“If I ask myself, it is not worth it for me to be second in either the Giro and the Tour. I am only looking to win them,” he stated. “Then we will see what happens. I am a maverick and victory is the only thing I ask of myself.”
He added that the only way he saw himself continuing beyond 2016 is if he had some mishap which prevented him from competing that year.
However he also stated that he could simply opt to stop at that point.
Contador has taken six Grand Tours in all during his career. He won the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009, and took the Giro d’Italia in 2008. He also won three editions of the Vuelta, succeeding in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
In addition to those successes, he was initially crowned the winner of the 2010 Tour de France and the 2011 Giro d’Italia, but lost those titles due to a positive test for Clenbuterol in the first of those events.
Speaking Monday, he reasserted his desire to finish at the top. He defined that by saying he wanted a year that was “better than 2009.”
On that occasion he won the Tour de France and also triumphed in the Volta ao Algarve, the Volta al Pais Vasco and the Spanish national time trial championships.